NFL meets to discuss Raiders, Chargers moves, doesn’t decide squat because why rush into things?

The NFL’s stadium and finance committees met yesterday as promised, and while nothing really was decided about either the Oakland Raiders‘ possible move to Las Vegas or the San Diego Chargers‘ possible move to Los Angeles, we have some hints of where things are headed. And as befits a league run by a bunch of rich guy who decide things by arguing about who has the biggest balls, the outcome looks to combine one helping of naked avarice with two of farcical train wreck.

Yesterday’s joint meeting was apparently mostly focused on the Raiders, with league VP Eric Grubman later telling the L.A. Daily News’s Vincent Bonsignore that team owner Mark Davis has made “impressive” progress on a stadium deal there. Which, yeah, we noticed, but has the NFL made any progress on deciding whether to approve the move?

Okay. Has Davis at least made up his mind about whether to take Vegas’s $750 million subsidy offer and go in with billionaire Sheldon Adelson on a stadium there?

Okay! So no news at all, really, other than “check back later.”

There are still two big unknowns in the Raiders-to-Vegas potential move: First off, the NFL needs to decide on what relocation fee Davis would be charged, which the league still hasn’t discussed, though they have hired the same consulting firm that picked $550 million out of a hat for the Rams‘ move to L.A. to figure it out. And second, Davis has to hash out a deal with Adelson on how to split revenues and costs, which they apparently still haven’t been able to put their heads together on. Adelson no doubt thinks he has Davis over a barrel since he has few other options for getting ahold of $750 million in public stadium cash, which is probably why the NFL deployed Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II to say this yesterday:

“I think the Raiders are looking at this potentially going without Mr. Adelson,’’ Rooney, chairman of the league’s stadium committee and one of the NFL’s most influential owners, told reporters in New York after league meetings on relocation and stadium issues.

Davis told the Review-Journal, “I have nothing to say right now.”

That sort of could make sense, maybe: If a Vegas stadium is viable for Adelson, then it’d be viable for some other developer as well, and Davis is the one with the rare commodity in an NFL team. Or he (or Rooney) could just be trying to drive a hard bargain with Adelson to get more money flowing into team/league coffers. Davis has until February 15 to decide on whether to file for relocation, and the NFL could always decide to extend that deadline if they want, so that leaves plenty of time for haggling.

On the Chargers front, meanwhile, the reason for the stasis is way more hilarious: It looks like team owner Dean Spanos doesn’t really want to move to L.A., and the other NFL owners don’t really want him to move to L.A., but the two sides are engaged in a massive game of chicken to decide whether the league will pay him to stay put. Per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora and his patented unnamed sources (though other outlets are reporting similar things):

There are some grave concerns among owners and the league office about the potential of having two teams in Los Angeles — the Chargers can exercise an option to move to L.A. next week, and sources said at this point they have no reason not to — and any subsidy offered to Chargers owner Dean Spanos would be born of those economic fears more than anything else…

The Rams have had a rough first season in Los Angeles and are already engaged in a coaching search, and the ratings in that market were not what some might have hoped for, as well. … Spanos has resisted leaving in the past and has his own concerns about the deal brokered with the Rams, one that would essentially make the Chargers a tenant to Rams owner Stan Kroenke at the stadium in construction scheduled to open in 2019, and there is sense among other owners that even a weak deal to stay in San Diego could carry the day.

There’s a lot to unpack there, but basically, if we believe La Canfora or whoever’s feeding him this stuff, Spanos doesn’t really like the deal being offered by Kroenke to move to L.A., but is trying to use the threat of taking it to extract some cash from the league to help him pay for a new stadium in San Diego. And the NFL can’t do much about it, as it already gave Spanos an option to move to L.A. last year when it approved the Rams move, and set the relocation fee to boot, meaning it can’t throw any roadblocks in the way of a Chargers move, just offer Spanos bribes not to go through with it.

Spanos’ option expires on Tuesday, which means something has to give really really soon. (He’s reportedly called a team staff meeting for this morning to discuss an undisclosed matter, which is presumably that he’s set to announce a move.) So, of course, yesterday’s meeting steadfastly avoided talking about the Chargers at all:

Just like the Rams decision did, it looks like this one is going to go down to the wire, and be decided by something stupid like egos or which NFL owners are Facebook friends. Both teams moving is still a likely scenario, but at this point I really wouldn’t rule anything out.

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40 comments on “NFL meets to discuss Raiders, Chargers moves, doesn’t decide squat because why rush into things?

  1. If true, this announcement will be made today a little over an hour from now at 11 am (eastern time).

  2. Not only does the league not want him to move, recent polls in LA county have 70% + saying they don’t want the Chargers.

    Serves the NFL right — they waited 20 years to return to LA and come back just as they left — with two weak teams.

    1. It was one thing that the Rams moved back to LA (they should have never left in my opinion). But the Chargers? Nobody in LA wants that franchise. It will be a train wreck when they fail to sell out the 27,000 seat Stub Hub Center in Carson. This is where the other NFL owners need to block Spanos’ application to relocate.

      1. Yeah, too bad they didn’t have the balls. This is my favorite part of your story:
        “The Rams have had a rough first season in Los Angeles and are already engaged in a coaching search, and the ratings in that market were not what some might have hoped for, as well”

        No, say it ain’t so. You mean to tell me a city that lost 2 teams and then took umpteen years to get one back doesn’t care about the NFL? No way!

        These billionaire owners are milking the public and we are allowing them to do it. Mayor Michael White of Cleveland is still considered a villain in the Browns move because he didn’t bow down to Art Modell (who is still considered like Satan there)

  3. Interesting. Read the last line of this ESPN article from Adam Schefter. Updated at 8:46 am this morning.

    “Sources said a news conference to address the move is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles.”

  4. I still can’t see how Spanos can afford to move. He’d have a new (or refurbished) stadium in SD now if he’d been able to come up with even a fraction of the $600 million the NFL is going to charge as a relocation fee. And the added team value comes from getting the new stadium, not from moving to be a tenant someplace else that likely won’t support the team. If his goal is to eventually sell for a big profit he’s setting up the scenario where relocating out of LA would be the first thing a new owner would need to explore. And that certainly doesn’t help with a sale.

    1. I’m guessing, once you move to L.A., the value of the team skyrockets. Then that’s when you would sell. Also, we don’t know what the relocation fee is, or how long it can be paid out for.

      1. ESPN says $550 million over 10 years. What I don’t get is the Stub Hub Center thing as temporary quarters. Way too small

        1. Stubhub kind of makes sense. Logistical problems with Coliseum, plus probable struggles to even get huge Stadium 1/2 filled for games with a subpar team.

          I’ve been to football at Stubhub. It’s definitely “intimate” but would work.

          Interesting how Carson was rejected as long term solution, but will have team for two transitional years.

        2. Actually it’s not when you consider no one in LA cares about the Chargers. They have zero history there. It’s all in San Diego. I bet they struggle to even fill StubHub.

          What’s going to be interesting is the scheduling of games and how they conflict with the Rams. It’s the NFL’s mo not to have teams in the same market play on the same day. However, it may be unavoidable, as USC’s scheduling takes precedence at the Coliseum since they own it.

          This entire thing is a cluster and is going to blow up in the NFL’s faces. The Chargers would be better served playing in Azteca de Stadia for the next 3 years.

      2. But that’s the question: How does being second fiddle in LA– especially when the first team had a rather disappointing inaugural season–drive the team price up? The stadium belongs fully to Kroenke–the Chargers are just tenants. Attendance won’t be anything better than in San Diego and costs will go up because Kroenke will actually charge them rent unlike the super-cheap deal they had in San Diego.

    2. The relocation fee amount is a baseless rumor. The NFL was asked and they refused to verify this nonsense. We won’t know the real amount until it shows up on the Green Bay Packers financial statements.

  5. Nice article from Jack Dickey on Not a typical rah-rah sports writer “build the team a stadium so I can keep my job” take.

    He sets the tone with this:

    “But the relocation circus of the last two years never had a whit to do with what the people of Los Angeles wanted, or for that matter with football. It had everything to do with the arms race among owners to build the most futuristic and opulent stadiums possible,”

    On the move itself, i wonder if Spanos is hoping the NFL will call his bluff and start to throw money at him to rebuild qualcomm.

    Just seems like a fail in the making to have the chargers go in LA.

    1. Jack Dickey was the guy at Deadspin who broke the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax story. He does fine work.

  6. As I hit post on the above, the anouncement was made.

    Here’s what I don’t get….

    Spanos has to pay $650M to move to LA. But in the last proposed Qualcomm deal, his bill was only going to be $362M:

    – $200 million in cash from the city, to be raised via lease revenue bonds (which San Diego officials say won’t require a public vote), then paid off by the city out of general revenues
    – $150 million in cash from the county (which would require a public vote, which couldn’t take place until June)
    – $362.5 million from the Chargers (who could use naming-rights fees to cover part of this)
    – $187.5 million from PSL sales
    – $200 million from the NFL’s G-4 program

    Who in his right mind would pay an extra $300M, to be in a tenant position in a market where you have an uphill battle to sell tickets?

    1. That’s an outstanding question. I would guess the answer is something along the lines of “they can sell more gear and stuff in L.A.,” but $300m would have to be a lot of stuff.

      1. Neil, you know the relocation fee amount is just an unverified rumor right? We don’t know the real amount. People are forming opinions based on fake news.

        The San Diego city and county funding would have failed miserably at the ballot box. His competition in LA, the Rams, are god awful. Allegedly they have a sweet heart lease, he’s going to make money even if they are horrible.

        I’m thrilled my city stood up to Spanos and we are getting rid of the Chargers.

    2. Apparently the relocation fee has been reduced to $500 million and is to be paid over 10 years. Funny how he can afford to pay that but not allocate those resources to a new stadium. The NFL owners’ arrogance knows no bounds, as Robert Kraft decides to slam the citizens of San Diego, essentially blaming them for Spanos’ plight. Gosh I hope this blows up in their faces.

      1. Post a link to the relocation fee with a quote from Goodell or another verifiable NFL representative otherwise it’s just fake news. I’m not trying to criticize you but people need to stop accepting rumors as fact.

    3. It’s becoming clear that Spanos is a moron. He was too cheap to put any of his own money up for anything which killed his options so now he’s backed himself into a corner where the only possibilities are moving to LA which even he realizes is a bad idea or hoping the NFL blinks and hands him a ton of money.

      But assuming the NFL does blink I wouldn’t expect Spanos to remain owner for long. The NFL would much rather just pay him off and get a different owner in there. He’s already unpopular with other owners and he’d be positively hated if the NFL felt like they were forced to step in to avoid a team failing in LA which would be a PR disaster for the entire league.

  7. What’s the over/under on when they will move back to San Diego? I’m not even a fan of the team (nor do I live in the United States) and I think that this is absolutely disgusting.

    1. No chance. They’ve burned all bridges in San Diego and there’s no public funding available here.

  8. The arrogance of the NFL has finally met its match: its owners. They completely underestimated California, who has zero appetite for funding stadiums publicly. You would think they would have learned with what the 49ers and Giants had to do in the Bay Area, what the Warriors are trying to do, and how the A’s and Raiders have struggled to do. Yet here they are, putting another franchise in LA which absolutely no one wants. The franchise Los Angelinos really want is the one headed to Las Vegas, which brings me to this…

    If a fraction of being reported about Davis attempting to cut out Adelson is true, he is dead in the water. There is no way the powers-that-be will ever go for that. I live in Las Vegas and the only reason this stadium even got considered was because of Adelson and his pull. These NFL idiotic owners honestly believe they mattered in the decision-making process, when in fact, they were used to finally close the deal on something TPTB have been waiting decades to justify. If the NFL owners are that brazen to try and cut Adelson out, I guarantee they will not be coming to Las Vegas under any circumstances.

    Personally I love that this is happening, because the con game is finally being exposed. These owners are beyond greedy and like Mark Cuban said, eventually that greed is going to catch up to them. It is finally happening. What would be the icing on the cake is if that story concerning Davis is true; then where in the hell is the Raiders going to go?

    1. I agree that Vegas is a pipe dream if the Raiders can’t build a stadium without Adelson’s $650 million. There’s absolutely no doubt that Sheldon Adelson will demand a higher return on his money than any investment bank. Gotta have a dome in Vegas. What are people thinking?

      1. Reporting from today indicates that the Raiders secured a backup/alternative to Adelson in the form of a financing guarantee from Goldman Sachs:

  9. This is all moot since the Chargers just announced their move. But the deal with Kroenke is more than fair. The Chargers valuation jumped to $2 billion just on the option to move to L.A. An actual move increases their valuation to $3 billion. The deal also included share of other revenue generated by the stadium. The only thing that was in the way was Spanos’ ego. Kroenke beat him and that seemed to hurt Spanos manhood.

    Fantasy numbers for sure. But you never know after the Dodgers sold for $2 billion.

    1. The problem is the Chargers can be worth $20 billion and it won’t matter if Spanos doesn’t leverage it. He could have sold 10% of the franchise to help pay for the stadium in San Diego. Now he becomes a tenant, going against everywhere his father stood for.

      Yes the Dodgers sold for $2 billion, but that included large swats of land near downtown LA. Plus, the Dodgers’ major partners (Walters) has hedge fund money backing him and brought along minority partners with some serious loot. In other words, he leveraged the Dodger brand in lessening the financial impact on him personally. Not to mention, unlike the NFL, MLB teams can negotiate local television deals. The Dodgers’ deal with Time Warner more than made up the capital outlay.

      1. I see your points. Especially the part where Spanos could have partnered with AEG and developed 166 of primo acres within the city. I am sure the city would have jumped to approve a San Diego Live. Only Spanos needed 100% ownership and public welfare but now he gets to be a rich renter. Spanos is one of those developers who does not develop anything or anything lately.

        1. True. Dean Spanos is another one of those “born on third base but thinks he hit a triple” kids who has no clue on how to effectively run and manage his father’s business. Old Man Spanos is a landlord and detested being subserviate to anyone. Cannot imagine him signing off on this when he was still coherent.

          Funny thing is, it was just verified here in Vegas that anyone one of these “born on third base/thinks he hit a triple” guys may try to cut out Adelson. Davis will find out real quick that $750 million disappears in an instant and he will be stuck in Oakland playing in the same sandbox he wants to leave. At this rate, the NFL will begin to cannabilise itself.

  10. If the well established New York teams had trouble with PSLs, is the NFL so naive to think LA can sell out PSLs for 2 teams?

    The Rams should have it a bit easier with their history and one year head start on the market.

    The Chargers have to establish some form of identity.

    1. Well those PSLs were on sale during the depths of our great recession. Lucky for Spanos that’s Kroenke’s problem.

  11. The Rams must be happy the Chargers are their new bunkmates instead of the Raiders. A winning Raiders team that already has an LA fan base, would have quickly eclipsed the Rams in popularity.

    1. They eclipse the Rams in popularity now, despite not actually playing there. Chargers will probably be somewhere between the 8th and 10th most popular NFL team among Angelenos.

  12. I think the subtext of recent decisions is that NFL owners, despite what’s worked for decades, now are moving towards an “every owner for himself” philosophy.

    In public, they try to maintain a stance of “we’re the shield and we’re together” but privately many of the newer owners seem to feel like they are being held down by the more conservative older families. They are asserting themselves.

    What could this mean–a recognition that US broadcast revenue in the long term may fall; per seat stadium revenue is going to be the key to success; and you need in-region sponsorships and “buzz” to maintain market share. In the longer term, maybe we see a more English soccer-like broadcast deal (good teams get more) and even an end to the salary cap.

    If I’m an owner in Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tennessee, or any of the smaller/poorer towns–I’m seeing the Joneses, Kroenekes, and others lining up against me. The support and the league togetherness may be drying up.

    1. I disagree. Allegedly they have a sweet heart lease, some relocation fee amount we don’t know, and their only stadium expense is their G4 loan repaid with other teams’ money.

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